Red-hot Oswego blitzes Batavia with 91 points
Batavia senior Zach Strittmatter said he knew No. 1 seed Oswego was going to be good.
A 14-0 lead, 91 points, 14 3-pointers, 11 players scoring, 7 of them hitting a 3, 59-percent shooting good?
Yep, that good.
Oswego put an end to Batavia's season Wednesday and an end to the career of three-year starters Strittmatter and Mike Rueffer, scoring the first 14 points of the game, taking leads of 28-5 after the first quarter and 51-23 at halftime on its way to a 91-51 victory that left the Bulldogs tipping their hats duly impressed.
"They are a really good team obviously. I felt like they didn't miss in the first half. Just a tough start and we tried to battle back throughout the game and they just kept hitting shots," said Strittmatter who compared the Panthers' quickness to playing Proviso East last year before adding: "I don't think I've seen a team shoot the ball that well though. It was impressive. You've got to give credit to them."
Oswego (27-3), which set school records for wins and also 3-pointers, will play Bolingbrook for the Class 4A Batavia regional title Friday night. Bolingbrook defeated Lemont 71-63.
Strittmatter scored 15 points to lead Batavia (12-15). The Panthers made 14 of their 26 attempts from beyond the arc while scoring at least 20 points in every quarter to reach their season-high 91.
"Oswego, they are not good, they are great," Batavia coach Jim Nazos said. "There is a reason why they only have two losses. Every time I turned around someone else was hitting a 3. They have a lot of guys that can hurt you. They are quick across the board."
Senior guards Elliott McGaughy (28 points) and Miles Simelton (22) combined for 50 points, sitting out the fourth quarter with the rest of starters. They had 37 by halftime.
McGaughy opened the scoring with 2 free throws, Simelton followed with two baskets and Nazos called his fist timeout down 6-0.
McGaughy came out of the timeout with back-to-back 3s, and a baseline jumper from Simelton made it 14-0 with those two scoring all 14 of the points.
"They were coming off a great game they played the other night so we felt like we needed to make a statement and we needed to make it right away and we did just that," Oswego coach Kevin Schnable said. "We played to our strengths which is racing the ball. Good sharing leads to good shooting and this is a group that has developed an unselfish approach to playing offensive basketball."
Strittmatter finally put Batavia on the board with 3:04 left in the first quarter. At that point the Bulldogs had missed their first 6 shots and turned the ball over 8 times — they wound up with 11 turnovers in the first quarter and trailed by 23 points when Zach West came off the bench to nail two 3s in the final 30 seconds of the quarter.
"Coach told us to start the game quickly and I think we did well pushing the pace of the game early," Simelton said. "When we came out our main objective was to shut them down. Coach said if we play good 'D' it will generate our offense and that's exactly what happened."
Down by 28 points at halftime, Strittmatter scored Batavia's first 6 points of the second half to bring the Bulldogs within 55-29 before the Panthers ran off 11 straight points. They led 71-32 after three.
Strittmatter scored 11 points in the second half while Micah Coffey finished with 8 points, Rueffer 7 and Luke Horton 6.
"Just going out fighting," said Strittmatter, the No. 1 student in his class who will play football at Washington University in St. Louis. "We knew we probably weren't going to come back from that deficit but that's the way I've always played. Got to pretend like the score is 0-0 and go hard the whole game."
Batavia will welcome a sophomore team to varsity next year that went 23-2 and won the conference title, and Nazos only hopes those players also bring the intangibles his first group of seniors displayed.
"There will be a time I turn and am really excited about the future but I think what they need to look at is how the seniors did things and try to emulate and follow their footsteps," Nazos said. "Everybody talks about Mike Rueffer as a leader, but until you see him every day in practice, you don't know the half of it. There's never a down time with him, Zach too, Jake (Pollack), all those guys.
"Tough game but I think these guys, this team here, I think they will be remembered way more than just this game. It's never about one game. It's about what happens during a season and how you do things. This group did it right every single day. It's a long season, it goes through peaks and valleys. Every time we got down we got back out. I think that says more about this team than that scoreboard did on the last game. I think the seniors have left a legacy as those who have gone before them and they can proudly carry on (as a) Batavia basketball alum just like everybody else who wore those sleeves."
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